– Coming off a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday, the Black & Gold were confident they would carry the same energy and physicality into game No. 2, by keeping it simple and maintaining their legs.
And when the final horn sounded on Monday’s matinee, the 2-1 shootout win over the Winnipeg Jets was not necessarily the ideal win for the Bruins, coming in extra time, but the B’s stood strong with their defense-first game plan and strong penalty kill and, thus, were pleased with the two-point effort.
“I think we’ve got to keep moving forward and keep playing the same way,” alternate captain Patrice Bergeron told media gathered near his locker room stall after the game. “We’ve said all along that it’s going to be games like that we need to win this year.”
Bergeron scored the shootout winner, and finished the game with five shots on Ondrej Pavelec, the most of all the Bruins - and the most shots on goal by all skaters on the ice. The center was one of only three B’s to register a plus-1 rating, along with – not surprisingly – his linemates Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand, who scored the Bruins lone goal in regulation.
“[Brad] was flying, he was buzzing, and I think we feed off of it – our line,” said Bergeron. “When he goes like that it creates a lot of chances, even Segs, the same thing. When these guys use their speed it opens up a lot of plays for all of us.”
And the chances were easy to come by – the line of Marchand-Bergeron-Seguin, coupled with that of the top line centered by David Krejci and flanked by Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton, generated opportunities all game. But the B’s found unlucky bounces and failed to convert, ending up with many close calls and five hit posts in all.
“We hit a few posts, couple of really good opportunities but it just seemed like one of those games where the puck wasn’t bouncing our way,” said Marchand on their lack of puck luck. “But we did a really good job at staying with it, and we have to be able to credit ourselves with being able to get those opportunities.”
“We had bodies in front and we really played to our system, so we’re really happy with the outcome.”
Captain Zdeno Chara, who kept the back end strong in front of Tuukka Rask, was pleased with his team’s effort, and saw the chances come in droves.
“They battled hard. But we had some really good scoring chances. And we – we just came up two inches too short,” said Big Zee, while shaking his head and cracking a frustrated smile about the unfortunate bounces.
But it was ultimately the Black & Gold’s defensive system that kept them pressing and allowed them to continue to generate chances.
“Our defense is always pretty good – and when I say our team defense, our system has been solid,” said Andrew Ference, who was wearing the ‘A’ tonight on the B’s third jersey for assistant captain. “Usually everything starts there and you work your way out.”
“As long as you’re generating - and obviously you don’t want to be doing that every game where at the end of the night you’re saying, ‘Wow, we had a lot of great chances, but didn’t put them away,’” added the defenseman, who logged 21:27 in ice time tonight, including 3:45 of that on the penalty kill.
Luckily for the B’s, their strong man-down approach that has impressed through the years came up big in the final minutes of the third period when Johnny Boychuk was called for high-sticking, and then again in overtime, after Chara went off for holding.
And the tandem of Seguin and Bergeron’s goals in the shootout helped seal the win.
“It’s all about, at the end of the day, getting the points, and we were able to do that so we’re definitely happy,” Marchand said on the victory, albeit in the shootout.
“I think nobody knew what to expect before those first two games, but we feel the same way,” Bergeron told media on the intensity shown by the Bruins – and the league – the past few days.
“The battle level and the plays are right up there to mid-season. So you know, every game is going to be hard – it’s going to be tough battles and we need to be ready for everyone.”
Even ready for a rematch with the New York Rangers, as the B’s head on the road to face the BlueShirts at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.